The Unfortunate Necessity of the Cleric


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My experience in this is that I've come to a table with a 2H fighter, a giant instinct barbarian, a dual wielding rogue, and a 2H ranger where I was playing a cleric and have them talk about the necessity of a cleric...

Sure, clerics are "necessary" if all you build for is DPR, but there are a lot of other viable strategies such as, I don't know, picking up a shield :-P that make a cleric a lot less necessary.


The-Magic-Sword touched on this above, but I don't think there's any necessary party role so long as the party can shore up for the lack of one thing with something else.

So for example, I had a Fall of Plaguestone group with a Gnome Leaf Druid, a tanky Dwarf Fighter, a Goblin Ranger with a crossbow, and a Human Thief Rogue. Not much debuffing there, but the party had a lot of health (Gnome, Dwarf, Unbreakable Goblin), good defenses, and a lot of offensive power backed up by the Druid's spot healing and goodberries out of combat. The Druid also tended to use most of her spell slots for blasting, though there was also a particularly good grease.

That group's healing was mostly out of combat until the Druid picked up Battle Medicine. They made up for fewer debuffs being cast with lots of damage, good defenses, and lots of scouting and planning. They never seemed to struggle more than I thought was appropriate

Would a Cleric have changed things if they took the place of the Druid? Probably not. Those Divine Font heals would have been in-combat healing instead of the Druid's goodberries. Probably more buffs over offensive spells.

If they were a Bard? Maybe to a degree, because +1 every turn is great, but I don't know if it would have been strictly needed over what the Druid brought to the table with wild shape, goodberry, and the Primal list.


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Puna'chong wrote:
The-Magic-Sword touched on this above, but I don't think there's any necessary party role so long as the party can shore up for the lack of one thing with something else.

I think you need at least melee martials. A party composed exclusively of casters and ranged martials will have hard time handling all types of encounters (ambushes, attacks of opportunity, etc...).

Appart from that, the most important thing for me is that every character brings unique things to the table. More of the same thing meets diminishing returns. Versatility is what makes a party strong.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
SuperBidi wrote:
Puna'chong wrote:
The-Magic-Sword touched on this above, but I don't think there's any necessary party role so long as the party can shore up for the lack of one thing with something else.

I think you need at least melee martials. A party composed exclusively of casters and ranged martials will have hard time handling all types of encounters (ambushes, attacks of opportunity, etc...).

Appart from that, the most important thing for me is that every character brings unique things to the table. More of the same thing meets diminishing returns. Versatility is what makes a party strong.

I would say versatility and synergy.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
SuperBidi wrote:
Puna'chong wrote:
The-Magic-Sword touched on this above, but I don't think there's any necessary party role so long as the party can shore up for the lack of one thing with something else.

I think you need at least melee martials. A party composed exclusively of casters and ranged martials will have hard time handling all types of encounters (ambushes, attacks of opportunity, etc...).

Appart from that, the most important thing for me is that every character brings unique things to the table. More of the same thing meets diminishing returns. Versatility is what makes a party strong.

I do like to think that we'll get more build options for casters that could support a party that operates that way though, we already have some in the form of heavy armor casters- the right spells and class feats could probably allow those casters to build out in such a way as to handle those kinds of encounters (at the expense of the power in their native role they could otherwise expect.)


The-Magic-Sword wrote:
SuperBidi wrote:
Puna'chong wrote:
The-Magic-Sword touched on this above, but I don't think there's any necessary party role so long as the party can shore up for the lack of one thing with something else.

I think you need at least melee martials. A party composed exclusively of casters and ranged martials will have hard time handling all types of encounters (ambushes, attacks of opportunity, etc...).

Appart from that, the most important thing for me is that every character brings unique things to the table. More of the same thing meets diminishing returns. Versatility is what makes a party strong.
I do like to think that we'll get more build options for casters that could support a party that operates that way though, we already have some in the form of heavy armor casters- the right spells and class feats could probably allow those casters to build out in such a way as to handle those kinds of encounters (at the expense of the power in their native role they could otherwise expect.)

I feel like my Sorcerer/Champion can already do a fair job tanking if the party is low on tanks. They're primal, so they also have access to the Heal spell (along with Lay on Hands and Champion reaction). There's some risk because of low HP, but that's mitigated a lot as they gain levels, and they have the option of either blasting with touch spells (from flank!) or raising their shield to prepare to take hits.

Granted, we haven't seen any casters that can dish out the melee damage like martials, but at least we have those that can be front-liners.


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SuperBidi wrote:
Puna'chong wrote:
The-Magic-Sword touched on this above, but I don't think there's any necessary party role so long as the party can shore up for the lack of one thing with something else.

I think you need at least melee martials. A party composed exclusively of casters and ranged martials will have hard time handling all types of encounters (ambushes, attacks of opportunity, etc...).

Appart from that, the most important thing for me is that every character brings unique things to the table. More of the same thing meets diminishing returns. Versatility is what makes a party strong.

I think that the need for melee martials is more a feature of module design than the game system itself. Too many encounters are set up at unnecessarily close range.

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Gortle wrote:
SuperBidi wrote:
Puna'chong wrote:
The-Magic-Sword touched on this above, but I don't think there's any necessary party role so long as the party can shore up for the lack of one thing with something else.

I think you need at least melee martials. A party composed exclusively of casters and ranged martials will have hard time handling all types of encounters (ambushes, attacks of opportunity, etc...).

Appart from that, the most important thing for me is that every character brings unique things to the table. More of the same thing meets diminishing returns. Versatility is what makes a party strong.
I think that the need for melee martials is more a feature of module design than the game system itself. Too many encounters are set up at unnecessarily close range.

The dungeon vision's curse strikes again.


Gortle wrote:
SuperBidi wrote:
Puna'chong wrote:
The-Magic-Sword touched on this above, but I don't think there's any necessary party role so long as the party can shore up for the lack of one thing with something else.

I think you need at least melee martials. A party composed exclusively of casters and ranged martials will have hard time handling all types of encounters (ambushes, attacks of opportunity, etc...).

Appart from that, the most important thing for me is that every character brings unique things to the table. More of the same thing meets diminishing returns. Versatility is what makes a party strong.
I think that the need for melee martials is more a feature of module design than the game system itself. Too many encounters are set up at unnecessarily close range.

Well, even if more combats were happening at long range, for the few close range combats lacking characters who can operate at full power in the reach of an AoO monster is a big liability.


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Gortle wrote:
I think that the need for melee martials is more a feature of module design than the game system itself. Too many encounters are set up at unnecessarily close range.

Having had a brief look at the available monsters in AoN it also seems that many of those are more dangerous in melee (especially at low level), than at range, which creates quite an interesting situation. Because many of the monsters on your level usually feature very high melee to-hit values (fighter level or even better due to stats) and because AoO only works in melee you actually don't want to fight in melee in PF2, even as a melee. However because they want to fight in melee you also need to be able to fight in melee. A classical case of if you don't go to war, war comes to you.

The monsters high static bonuses were another nail in the coffin of my supposedly tankcentric warpriest because tanking (as in standing fast and taking the hits) does not work in PF2.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Ubertron_X wrote:
Gortle wrote:
I think that the need for melee martials is more a feature of module design than the game system itself. Too many encounters are set up at unnecessarily close range.

Having had a brief look at the available monsters in AoN it also seems that many of those are more dangerous in melee (especially at low level), than at range, which creates quite an interesting situation. Because many of the monsters on your level usually feature very high melee to-hit values (fighter level or even better due to stats) and because AoO only works in melee you actually don't want to fight in melee in PF2, even as a melee. However because they want to fight in melee you also need to be able to fight in melee. A classical case of if you don't go to war, war comes to you.

The monsters high static bonuses were another nail in the coffin of my supposedly tankcentric warpriest because tanking (as in standing fast and taking the hits) does not work in PF2.

Standing fast and taking hits has always been a bad strategy in RPGs. In the past, it was possible to have such a large advantage in AC that getting hit was something you could make not happen just by collecting the right numbers. In PF2, not getting hit requires in combat tactical decisions, not just preemptive strategic ones.

Tactically, the way you win battles in PF2 is through controlling action efficiency. You make your enemies take their least efficient actions while trying to find a way to maximize the efficiency of your own actions.

That is really hard to do if your first turn involves having to take 2 move actions, and an action to raise your shield. Even if you only have to spend one action moving, it is unlikely that you are going to drop an enemy with a single attack, but most characters, PCs and Monsters, have a small chance of dropping an equal level enemy with 3 consecutive actions. The percentages go up significantly with levels above their targets (You'd need someone like Mathmuse or Mark to give you accurate numbers).

With a high hardness shield, a tanky character can often succeed at countering the effectiveness of one enemy action. Sometimes, against less powerful enemies that can be an effective denial of an enemy's entire turn, but rarely will that be the case against a higher level enemy.

Combat healing is only action efficient when it can undo more enemy actions than it takes OR allow your side to have the one last turn of maximally efficient actions that will be required to finish the encounter. The more the party relies on melee martials that have to waste their early action efficiency for later rounds of more efficient actions, the more healing is a necessary part of your strategy.


Unicore wrote:
...

Excellent tactical analysis.

There is one thing I want to add which is how in my opinion players and monsters traded places in regards to their respective agenda and playstyle.

In PF1 it usually was the players having the advantage in their "stats block", i.e. it was the monsters who needed to resort to special attacks and/or manoeuvres in order to hit or somehow endanger the players. In PF2 it largely seems that the monsters having the advantage in their "stats block" so this time the players have to resort to special attacks and/or manoeuvres to minimize the damage they receive.

Which in itself already explains why and when clerics are needed most. They and their ingame healing are needed for all cases where the party is not willing to - or able to - conduct the manoeuvres they need to do in order to minimize the damage received.

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